NEW YORK – Drive sober or get pulled over. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Sure, you’ve heard them before and rightfully so: over 10,000 people are killed in alcohol-fueled car crashes each year. Boozing drivers have long plagued U.S. roadways (and they still are) but now, there’s a rival that could be deadlier than driving under the influence of alcohol.
Drugs. We usually think these are dangerous and deadly substances like heroin, cocaine or methamphetamines. Yes, those are dangerous drugs and they are the root of a number of deadly crashes but researchers say prescription drugs can be just as dangerous when used while operating motor vehicles.
According to a new report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the use of prescription drugs has quadrupled since 1999. Brooklyn car accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say the numbers are concerning as the amount of prescription painkillers become more prevalent and more states permit the use of marijuana.
“Any drug – whether it’s illegal, prescription or over-ther-counter – could potentially impair a driver at your neighborhood intersection in Brooklyn,” car accident lawyer Steve Barnes said. “Almost all of the prescription drugs warn consumers about the dangers of operating a car and taking medication but many people ignore that warning.”
The most recent national data show drunk driving is declining while drugged driving is occurring more often. Researchers examined federal data and discovered drugs were present in almost 40 percent of the drivers who were killed and tested following a car crash. According to a recent roadside survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 22 percent of all drivers tested positive for some kind of drug or medication.
“The effects of some prescription drugs can be compared to the effects of alcohol,” Barnes said. “That’s how dangerous some of these drugs are – and the consequences of driving under the influence can be severe.”
Drugged drivers can be slapped with large fines associated with DUI and DWI laws. When a drugged driver causes a crash, it could cost even more. The Brooklyn car accident attorneys at Cellino & Barnes will pursue the largest possible compensation for their clients, some of whom have been injured in crashes with a drugged driver.
Researchers are now pleading with state governments to address the rise in prescription and illegal drug use; pushing education via public service announcements, grassroots engagement and other efforts to curb the number of drugged drivers on the roads.